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A Vietnam vet I knew in college (“I fought the war; I taught the war”) said that in the end, the conflict was not over Communism or Capitalism, but always came down to “Rice-ism”, meaning that whatever filled bellies had the power over the people.

This TED Talk challenges the absolutism of economic freedom and political rights as a means of social success, namely in that such ideals and derived ideologies are predicated by some minimum level of economic stability and quality of life. In other words, it may be a worthy goal, but may not be as relevant to the vast majority of mankind living in developing nations.

The speaker also evaluates an opposite model — that of China — that has provided an equally (or even surpassing) capability of economic improvement. Emerging markets, therefore, find benefit in following China rather than America, who traditionally has exported democracy and the free market with questionable means, motives, and success.

But the real value of this talk is bringing the data showing that the survival of a free country correlates to its per capita earnings, suggesting that prosperity breeds freedom and not merely the other way around.

And a shocking statistic is presented: Half of our nations are “Democracies”, but 70% of those are “illiberal” with regards to basic political freedoms.

Lastly, the speaker urges ideological cooperation rather then competition between schismatic political-economic paradigms.

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